The Outwin: American Portraiture Today will make its West Coast debut at Tacoma Art Museum Feb. 4. This is the first stop for the now-traveling exhibit, which comes from the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery. As of now, it is the only slated West Coast stop.
The exhibit will be on view until May 14.
The pieces are entrants from the Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition, which happens every three years through the National Portrait Gallery.
There are 43 pieces, which were selected out of a field of 2,500 entrants. Styles of portraiture range from photography to drawing to sculpture.
Dorothy Moss, curator of the National Portrait Gallery, is in Tacoma for the opening. Moss said she feels portraiture is community building, something that is needed in a divided country today.
“To me, that’s really what museums are for — a place to come together,” she said.
Most unique in the exhibit is a “box portrait” by artist Adrián “Viajero” Román titled Caja De Memoria Viva II: Consantsia Colón de Clemente. The box portrait is mixed media, and is suspended from the ceiling. Inside the box, which viewers can walk under, are artifacts from the life of Doña Constancia Colon-Clemente, a Black Puerto Rican who came to the United States in the 1940s. Audio of Clemente speaking plays as well.
Moss said the installment was very popular at the National Portrait Gallery.
The competition selects a top three, with this year’s winner being Amy Sherald’s Miss Everything (Unsupressed Deliverance). Sherald won a $25,000 prize for the work.
“I see her as a rising star in the art world,” said Moss.
Sherald will be at the museum for an artist talk from 5-8 p.m. March 16. As it is the third Thursday of the month, museum admission — as well as Sherald’s talk — will be free.
Other events related to the exhibit are:
- Curator Conversation: Dorothy Moss, National Portrait Gallery, 3 p.m. Feb. 4. Tickets are sold out, but a waitlist will be available at 2 p.m. Cost is free.
- Members’ Opening Celebration, 7-10 p.m. Feb. 4, $20 general, $10 students with ID, Purchase tickets at the door. Free for members. RSVP online at tacomaartmuseum.org.
- Portrait Party Free Community Festival, 12-4 p.m., March 5. Cost is free.
- Artist Talk with first-prize winner Amy Sherald, 5-8 p.m. March 16. Cost is free.
- Teen Night, 7-10 p.m. March 25. Cost is free with a high school ID.